World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021 – raising awareness on occupational allergy

EAACI Advocacy – World Day for Safety and Health at Work: every effort should be made to keep the workplace safe and healthy

On the occasion of World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021, the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) takes to opportunity to raise awareness on occupational allergies, which have for years been among the most frequently recorded occupational diseases, affecting both the skin, the eye and the upper and lower respiratory tract.
A large number of workers are restricted in work attendance due to allergic symptoms or asthma. At the same time, a multitude of patients develop allergies due to specific exposure at their workplaces. With more than 300 agents described as occupational allergens and the number constantly increasing, this presents a critical challenge for workers’ quality of life and a priority for EAACI.

Why is it important to talk more about occupational allergy?

  •  Occupational allergy is on the rise, with new allergens, new work processes, country-specific differences and significant unmet needs innterms of gender and age.
  • There are large gaps in tools for early and targeted diagnostics, as well as for monitoring allergen exposure at the workplace.
  • There is a significant disparity between perception of occupational allergies and the importance for the public health system.
  • There are too few internationally recognized occupational exposure limits for allergens in the workplace, meant to protect against the development of sensitization or allergic reactions.
  • Due to lack of standards, reduction of allergen exposure using appropriate risk management and exposure control strategies is advocated to be best practice.

What are EAACI’s priorities for the way forward?

1. Environmental exposure control is a cornerstone for prevention.There is a need for implementation of suitable tools for exposure assessment, to obtain valid information of occupational exposure and limits.
2. High quality allergen extracts for targeted standardised diagnostics must remain or become available.
3. More efforts in research of molecular characterization of occupational allergens for optimization of diagnosis and treatment are needed,
4. Education of workers, adolescents and young adults with asthma on to the potential effects of work with sensitizers and adoption of prevention measures should be further prioritized
5. An objective evaluation of time trends in the incidence and causes in the EU / world-wide by harmonization of diagnostic methods and data registration is required,
6. Increased awareness towards improving working conditions especially in low income countries.

We encourage you to watch the EAACI Occupational Allergy Interest Group’s call to action on this important day.